Dwight Howard provides dying woman with bucket of memories
Kay Kellogg, who has Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma, had only one thing on her bucket list: meet Dwight Howard
7:42 PM EDT, September 7, 2010
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Her bucket list included just one item.
Kay Kellogg didn't want to climb the Eiffel Tower. Or run a marathon. Or jump out of an airplane. She just wanted to have a nice conversation with her hero.
" Dwight Howard is just such a precious, wonderful kid," she says. "Whenever I watch him play, he just makes me feel good inside."
And for a woman who feels so bad inside most of the time, this is quite an accomplishment for Dwight.
You think leading the league in rebounding and blocked shots is difficult? Try leading the cancer ward in smiles elicited and hearts warmed.
Kay, 62, is sitting at her apartment Tuesday telling her story.
She's just finished yet another round of chemo. In her younger days, she was a ballet dancer, gracefully spinning and twirling as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Now, she slowly gets around with a walker.
She has Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma, an aggressive cancer that searches out and destroys the blood plasma in the bone marrow. Her disease is inoperable and incurable, but her demeanor is inspiriting and uplifting.
She lives on a fixed income, but two seasons ago she decided to treat herself to Magic season tickets in the upper level. Watching Dwight play is one of the joys of her life. She showed up at nearly every game that season wearing her blue No. 12 Dwight jersey.
"I was sitting way up in the cheap seats," she says, "but I felt like I was in heaven."
A few weeks ago, her daughter, Arian Clute, had an idea. She contacted the Magic and told them that her mother had but one wish before she died: She wanted to meet Dwight.
And, so, a few days ago, Dwight showed up at her door step. He was supposed to spend 30 minutes and ended up staying nearly two hours.
"He has become my 7- foot-tall bottle of medicine," Kay says
They laughed and talked and talked and laughed.
They talked about love and life — and death and divinity. She told him how she was in show business her whole life and loves basketball. He told her how he's been in basketball his whole life and loves show business.
They compared the sizes of their hands and then Dwight gently grabbed her bare foot from the end of a recliner like Prince Charming grabbing Cinderella's. He looked down and said sweetly, "How can this little foot hold up anyone?"
They busted out laughing.
And then he asked her why — why is he the only one on her bucket list?
She looked at him and said, "Because some people get a choir that sings them into heaven and some people get a chariot that rolls them into heaven. Not me. I want to be slam-dunked smack, dab into the middle of heaven by Dwight Howard."
They busted out laughing again.
By the time the visit was over, Dwight was affectionately calling her "Mama Kay" and she was lovingly calling him "My Dwight."
It was the strangest thing, according to those who were there. Dwight was supposed to inspire her, but she ended up inspiring him, too. Her bucket list turned into the most meaningful bucket he's ever recorded.
When she gingerly stood up to say goodbye, he bent way, way down, hugged her hard and told her something startling. He told this 4-foot-11 woman who is dying of cancer, "You are taller than me."
"That's the silliest thing I've ever heard," she said.
"No," Dwight insisted, "you are taller than me because your spirit lifts you up."
Kay Kellogg was once a dancer and singer who entertained people worldwide. She once danced at Radio City Music Hall and performed with Bing Crosby, who once sang "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas."
Kay got something better last week. She got a Dwight Christmas — four months early.
"I'm not afraid to die," she says. "I've had a great life with great friends, a great job and I raised two great daughters. And now that I've met my Dwight, what more is there?"
Well, there is one thing.
"I told Dwight to say a prayer so that I'm around long enough to see him play on opening night."